Casa Batlló in Barcelona is one of those places that always manages to surprise. When you study modernism (also known in Europe as Art Nouveau) or Gaudí’s art, you never imagine such beauty until you see it with your own eyes.
Visitors’ expectations are always high, but Casa Batlló always manages to meet them as well as exceeding them. It is a building that grabs your attention at first sight. Its façade is already capable of bewitching you and you can’t help but stare at it. At first it may amaze, bewilder or even frighten you, but the truth is that it never leaves you indifferent.
If you have the chance to go to Barcelona, you can’t miss it. And if you can do it during the month of April, on Sant Jordi’s Day, all the better, as there are many activities to enjoy a spectacular day.
The History of Casa Batlló
Passeig de Gràcia became one of the main axes of Barcelona’s Eixample quarter at the beginning of the 20th century. It was the bourgeoisie’s favorite area and the wealthiest families were keen to show off their financial power by commissioning splendid historic houses along the boulevard. At that time, modernism (Art Nouveau) reigned across Europe and to live up to European standards, the Catalan industrialists did not hesitate to hire the most outstanding architects of the time.
In 1903, Josep Batlló was a powerful industrialist and businessman who decided to acquire a building built in 1877 by Emilio Salas Cortés, a professor at the Barcelona School of Architecture, who taught Gaudí. The design was sober, perhaps too sober considering the adjoining building, Casa Amatller, by Puig i Cadafalch. So, the following year, Batlló hired the services of Gaudí, who was very popular at the time.
The Spanish industrialist wanted to demolish the building to build a new one, but in the end he listened to Gaudí’s suggestions, who encouraged him to leave the structure in order to carry out a complete renovation. What the great architect did was to include two more levels (floor and attic) and redo the key points of the building: the façade, the ground floor, the interior courtyard and the main floor or the Batlló’s family home.
What does Casa Batlló represent?
Casa Batlló started from a blank canvas which Gaudí knew how to make the most of. It is a world full of fantasy, evoking nature and inspired by the marine world. It is a universe full of light and colour, with a very rich symbology that is an idealization of art through its sculptures, objects and recycled materials.
Casa Batlló’s roof
The shape of the roof is similar to the crest of the dragon, an allegory of the legend of Sant Jordi. The dragon’s back rests on the roof, formed by ceramic tiles that take the form of scales, and is crossed by a four-armed cross, which crowns the smaller tower of the roof.
Casa Batlló’s living quarters
The first thing we see on entering Casa Batlló is an oak staircase, with sinuous lines like the spinal column of an animal, which takes us to the first floor. As we walk up them we come across a very curious room with a mushroom-shaped fireplace and a bench. This is the office where Josep Batlló worked.
If we leave his office behind, we enter the main floor of the building, the most important room with many marine-style elements. The ceiling is in the shape of a spiral, which simulates the movement of a water whirlpool, and has a chandelier in the centre. The windows overlook Passeig de Gracia and the stained glass windows are spectacular, revealing the social class to which the owner belonged.
The dragon of the Casa Batlló
According to legend, Sant Jordi killed the dragon with his sword to save the people and the princess. The design of the roof we mentioned earlier symbolises the dragon and the sword stuck in his body. In addition, the columns of the building that simulate bones recall the victims of the beast, while the balcony on the top floor is in the shape of a flower, alluding to the princess’s balcony. In fact, over the years Casa Batlló has also been known as the house of the dragon or the house of bones.
The façade of Casa Batlló
As for the façade, Gaudí put all his efforts into it to create a work that escapes our imagination. The architect managed to create the surprising shapes he wanted by using plaster models, which he modelled with his hands.
He also combined different materials such as glass, iron, ceramics and stone to obtain an astonishing play of light and shadow. The result gave rise to all kinds of interpretations, one of the most widely accepted being to link the façade to the Impressionist art of classic works such as Monet’s Water Lilies on the Pond.
Who lives in Casa Batlló?
Casa Batlló ceased to be owned by the Batlló family in the 1950s. It was then owned by different wealthy people and companies, until the Bernat family, the founders of the Chupa-Chups company, took over the building in the 1990s. Today they are still the owners, and it is they who restored the house in its entirety.
Casa Batlló was a family residence, whose first floor and main floor were occupied. Later, from 1911 onwards, the upper floors were rented out, although it is not currently possible to live in the building, which is possible at La Pedrera, where the writer Ana Viladomiu lives.
How much do tickets to Casa Batlló cost?
Casa Batlló is open every day from 9 am to 8 pm. As each visit takes a minimum of one hour, the last entrance is at 7 pm. That said, we recommend that you buy your tickets well in advance, especially if you intend to visit during the peak season.
Also, you should know that there is a supplement at the ticket office, so the cost is higher. Without a doubt, the best option is to buy tickets online. Of course, there are different types of tickets, something you should bear in mind to choose the one you are most interested in.
Once you buy your ticket online, you don’t need to print it out. All you need to do is show it from your mobile phone. Whichever ticket you finally choose, you will see that there are no guided tours inside, although all of them include an audio guide called “Smart Guide”, which consists of a tablet with 45 minutes of content and augmented reality effects, which you will find in different languages.
Now we are going to list the types of tickets and prices that currently exist, which you can access conveniently online to avoid queuing:
- Casa Batlló Blue tickets. This is a basic ticket with a standard tour and the prices are as follows: adults – 25€, students between 13 and 18 years old – 22€, seniors – 22€ and children under 12 years old – free.
- Casa Batlló Silver tickets. Consists of the above tour plus a modernist room decorated with period furniture. Prices are: adults – 33€, students between 13 and 18 – 30€, seniors – 30€ and children under 12 – free.
- Casa Batlló Gold tickets. Includes the previous visits, FastPass (skip-the-line entry to the visit and the shop) and a period portrait. In this case, the ticket prices are as follows: adults – 35€, students between 13 and 18 years old – 32€, over 65s – 32€ and under 12s – free.
As mentioned above, there is a supplement of €4 at the box office, which you can save by buying online.
There are also special tours, such as “Be The First”, which costs €39. It’s actually like the Blue ticket, except that you can enter half an hour before the usual opening time, i.e. 08:30. That way, you’ll avoid running into crowds. There are sometimes dramatised tours on Sundays, which cost €37, and there have even been night tours on occasion.
Visiting Casa Batlló on Sundays is not free, as is the case with other similar museums or galleries. Nor is there a so-called open day. What is possible is to find some kind of special promotion, although they are basically aimed at residents of Catalonia.
You can book your tickets online at any time to secure your place and avoid long queues. You can even do so right up to the start time, subject to availability. To book your tour of Casa Batlló, all you have to do is choose the date in which you want to visit the house and fill in a short form on the website.
Confirmation is immediate, although as the website states, the entrance fee is non-refundable and you will not be allowed to make any cancellations or changes.